Many innovative applications fail to transition from developmental projects to real-world use, a gap known as the research-to-practice divide. This is due, in part, to inconsistent approaches to test and evaluation as well as insufficient attention to security requirements. In other words, deploying new e-learning applications that meet stringent standards for quality, interoperability, and data security is challenging in DoD environments.
A software development and deployment process that provides access to vetted products including prototype applications that are ready for transition into operational use, along with a user-friendly portal to access technologies developed through this process, for use across DoD.
About the Project
The Learning Technology Warehouse (LTW) project helps navigate the learning software application journey from concept development to deployment. Two key components of this project are the DevSecOps Pipeline for software development, and an LTW Portal that serves as a clearinghouse for applications. This approach reduces duplication of R&D efforts among DoD users, while ensuring quality (e.g. security benchmarks, complete documentation) and leveraging individual organization investments across the DoD—saving substantial time and resources.
DevSecOps (short for Development, Security, Operations) takes an idea or concept and matures it into a capability, using proven industry-adopted methodologies and ensuring cybersecurity protocols are considered early-on and throughout the process. In August 2019, the DoD formalized the DoD Enterprise DevSecOps Reference Design to guide its development and procurement of software products, stating this approach is “the industry best practice for rapid, secure software development.” The benefits of DevSecOps include reduced time to get a software solution up and running in production, while applying risk monitoring and mitigation across the application lifecycle.
The ADL Initiative established a DevSecOps Pipeline to ensure that interoperability and data security requirements are baked in throughout the development process of its R&D projects. This includes meeting the DoD Risk Management Framework (RMF) requirement. By replacing the traditional waterfall approach, which is slow and inhibits adaptability and innovation, the ADL Initiative can rapidly mature ideas into capabilities with the input of the user community. This pipeline includes a development and testing environment, the TLA Sandbox, used by DoD organizations to explore the TLA specification or test products for compliance. This approach will increase the rate of success when DoD components deploy these solutions based on their specific requirements, while also benefiting the greater DoD learning ecosystem.
The LTW portal serves as the final node of the DevSecOps pipeline, supporting the release, deployment, and maintenance of software applications. Prototype applications are transitioned to the portal after development and testing is completed in the TLA Sandbox. Having gone through the pipeline process, these applications are easier for DoD organizations to deploy, with proven functionality and full documentation for installation and usage. This secure, cloud-based repository supports user-created authenticated accounts and product search capabilities.
To date, the following ADL Initiative applications have been made available in the portal:
Competency and Skills System (CaSS) - open-source xAPI-native software for organizations to define, store, manage, share, and access competencies
Personalized eBooks for Learning (PeBL) - an open source interactive eBook platform
PERvasive Learning System (PERLS) - a DoD-wide microlearning capability
Perceptual and Adaptive Learning Modules (PALMs) - a rapid content authoring tool
Each application has a dedicated page with detailed product information including history, development milestones, and a link to a product demonstration. Support documentation such as technical specifications, reports, and contact information are also available. Federal Government personnel can register for an account to access the LTW portal.
DoD Components have already started to use applications that have been vetted through the DevSecOps Pipeline that are now available in the portal. The ADL Initiative continues to work with the Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) USALearning to support technical experimentation in the TLA Sandbox to create a continuous flow of products for the DoD to access using the portal. The long-term vision for the LTW is integration into the OPM USALearning workflow. This will enable users to move directly from finding a product to instantiating it into their learning ecosystem.